Life drawing in Florence

Life drawing in Florence

Florence's life drawing community is an easy one to be welcomed into, with short or long form sessions available.

Mon 25 Mar 2024 12:21 PM

The nude is everywhere in Florence. Statues stand on every corner, frescoes adorn every palazzo ceiling worth its name and the city’s galleries abound with paintings and drawings that exalt the human body, to put it immodestly. Modesty isn’t exactly the point here. In such surroundings, it would be easy to think that this practice was something of times gone by, before our liberal, humanistic streak had been colored with a little self-consciousness and an involuntary blush at the thought of an unclothed model posing for an audience. However, almost every evening, in numerous spots around Florence, these assumptions are undone and the place of the nude in art is brought to life in drawing classes for beginners and professionals.

Life drawing sessions follow a typical structure. A different model each week poses for the group in various positions for differing amounts of time. Short form poses can range from one to thirty minutes, while longer form poses can reach an hour or more in duration. Breaks are scheduled throughout, for the benefit of both the model and the artists, to chat about which pencils you’re using or how much luck you’re having with a particular model on a particular evening. Each venue has its regulars as well as newcomers every week, strengthening a community of creatives that need not have any experience or expertise; just a willingness to give it a go.

A little research goes a long way in choosing a preferred life drawing session and there’s no better way to research than to do the rounds. Some are structured with fewer poses for longer periods, others start with very short poses, gradually getting longer. Other factors to consider include the room itself, the lighting, how many people it can accommodate and, most importantly, whether or not they offer refreshments. The social network embraces the artists and the models, who often take requests for poses and are eager to see the results.

The life drawing community is an easy one to be welcomed into. Groups are much more diverse in age and background than one might expect, and the common ground is in creativity and the enjoyment of a shared passion. As a hobby, it constantly offers new challenges and opportunities to improve, where the commitment quickly pays off and advice is openly shared between seasoned pros and first-timers. As well as tips on how proportions or shadows work, there is inside knowledge on which type of paper to choose and which art shops have it on sale.

Any reservations are easy to overcome; it will seem natural after a pose or two. Copying a human form is unsurprisingly instinctual, especially with Florence’s constant reminders, and you’ll walk away from each session with a renewed appreciation and understanding of the old masters and their abilities. Even Michelangelo followed a model for David. That said, fresh drawings each week prove the living nature of life drawing and awaken the tradition from the stone-cold statues or paintings frozen in time.

Where to do life drawing in Florence

SOTTO al British at The British Institute of Florence (lungarno Guicciardini 15) holds social life drawing sessions every Monday evening, 7-9pm, with poses of ranging durations. No prior booking is required. 

Charles H. Cecil Studios (borgo San Frediano 68) runs a sketch session every Tuesday evening, 6-8pm, in addition to full-time and part-time courses.  

A life drawing session takes place every Thursday evening at piazza Santa Croce 19, 9-11pm. There are also occasional Anatomy of a Masterpiece sessions on Sundays and advertised on the Santa Croce Arte Facebook page. Booking is recommended. 

The Art With Love Foundation (via del Palazzo Bruciato 14) runs a donation-based life drawing every Saturday afternoon, 2-5pm. Some materials are provided. 

The Florence Art Studio (via Ghibellina 121) opens its doors twice a week for two-hour drawing sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Prior booking is required.

Live model sessions at Studio 10 (via dei della Robbia 82) take place every Wednesday evening, 7-9pm, and a five-session class pass can be purchased online. 

Geko Art Studio (via Coluccio Salutati 3R) offers clay modelling sessions with a live model every Wednesday evening, 6-8pm. Easels and clay are provided. Booking is required via WhatsApp (+39 349 5805890). 

Eterea Sculpture Studio (via Maggio 21) offers a life drawing session every Thursday evening, 6:30-9pm, with themed nights and artist talks. They also hold a sculptural portrait course every Tuesday evening, 6:30-8:30, with all materials and tools included. Booking is required via email (

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